Versace apologises after tops imply Hong Kong and Macau are countries


Yang said Versace has harmed China's sovereign and territorial integrity, according to a statementposted Sunday on the official Weibo account of Jiaxing Xingguang, the actress's studio.

Even so, the Versace controversy comes at a highly-sensitive time after another round of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last weekend.

On Sunday, Versace apologised in an official Weibo post for a "wrong design". Is it really an accident?

While both places have a significant degree of autonomy and are former European colonies, Hong Kong and Macau are regarded as part of China.

Milan-based Versace is the latest company to become entangled in political issues involving China, which since previous year has increased its policing of how foreign firms describe Hong Kong and Macau, former European colonies that are now part of China but run with a high degree of autonomy.

Macau is a special administrative region of China.

Versace said it had taken the range off the shelves.

Chinese authorities and state media have lashed out particularly in recent weeks at firms that appear to back the Hong Kong demonstrations, with flagship airline Cathay Pacific facing demands that staff who supported the protests be prevented from working on flights passing through Chinese airspace.

The topic "Coach" was the hottest item on China's Twitter-like Weibo this morning, receiving 1.2 billion views. "We love China and resolutely respect China's territorial national sovereignty", the Italian brand wrote on its Weibo account on Sunday.

Chinese users online, however, were not mollified.

On the evening of August 11, the company's artistic director Donatella Versace released an official apology on several social media platforms.

Versace is the latest of a growing list of foreign brands that have been attacked in China for perceived slights to its culture or national sovereignty.

Italy's Dolce & Gabbana also apologised in November after its products were pulled from lucrative Chinese e-commerce platforms over an Instagram post seen in China as culturally offensive. Calls for a boycott intensified after a social media message from one of its founders insulting China was leaked.

In May 2018, United States clothing retailer Gap apologized over a T-shirt showing a map of mainland China that omitted Taiwan, which Beijing considers a rebel province awaiting reunification.

The brands are the latest to get into hot water over political issues in China, which has been more assertive in its territorial claims and how it expects foreign companies doing businesses in China to describe them. The Chinese government shut down its local website and Marriott was forced to change its hotel listings in Taiwan to "Taiwan, China" - which in turn led to complaints in Taiwan.

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